The theatre was designed by W. G. R. Sprague and opened on 27 December 1906 as the Hicks Theatre, named after Seymour Hicks, for whom it was built. The first play at the theatre was a hit musical called The Beauty of Bath co-written by Hicks. Another big success was A Waltz Dream in 1908. In 1909, the American impresario Charles Frohmanbecame manager of the theatre and renamed the house the Globe Theatre – a name that it retained for 85 years. Call It a Day opened in 1935 and ran for 509 performances, a long run for the slow inter-war years. There's a Girl in My Soup, opening in 1966, ran for almost three years, a record for the theatre that was not surpassed until Daisy Pulls It Off opened in April 1983 to run for 1,180 performances, the theatre's longest run. In 1987 Peter Shaffer's play Lettice and Lovage opened, starring Maggie Smith, and became a hit.
The Globe's theatre cat, named Beerbohm, became famous enough to receive a front page obituary in the theatrical publication, The Stage in 1995. Refurbished in 1987, the theatre has since presented several Alan Ayckbourn premieres, including Man of the Moment (1990), as well as a notable revival of An Ideal Husband in 1992. During reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe theatre on the South Bank, in 1994 the theatre was renamed the Gielgud Theatre in honour of John Gielgud. Another refurbishment was completed in 2008.